A Historical Sketch of
Steele Creek A.M.E. Zion Church
The earliest known recollection of Steele Creek African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church dates back to around 1861. An acre of land is recorded in Mecklenburg County, having been deeded to the trustees on the twentieth day of December, 1887. Under the leadership of Rev. George Pharr, an improvised open air structure called the "brush arbor" was the first known place of worship. A desire for a more permanent place to worship led the congregation in the building of "The Steele Creek Mission A.M.E. Zion Church". As time went by, many improvements were made. Around 1912, the church was remodeled with a four corner top. In 1922, a square top was added and electricity became a welcomed addition. Rev. Robinson was the pastor during this period. Other pastors identified by senior members of the current church were Rev. Riddick, Rev. W. Blackmon, Rev. L. A. Barber, Rev. I. C. Tims, Rev. D. D. Moore, Rev. W. L. Lawhorn, and Rev. John D. Hamilton. Around 1925, a partial basement was dug to accommodate the church's new gas heater.
Early on, the congregation decided to raise funds to cover the costs associated with church additions. In one early rally, the congregation raised all but $200.00 of their $1,200 debt. This accomplishment was made under the leadership of Rev. Samuel Burke. In 1926, Rev. J. W. Campbell led the church in purchasing new pulpit furniture. The first well was dug in 1930. It was during this period that Steele Creek became a station church. Originally, it had been part of a circuit. Rev. B. S. Stinson pastored Steele Creek from 1931 to 1964. It was under his leadership that a decision was made to move the old church from its original site closer to the road. Rev. L. B. Speas pastored the church from 1964 to 1968. After having been moved, the old church began to show it's age and eventually needed to be torn down. A major fund raising drive took root and slowly but surely, enough funds were raised to construct a new church. The old church was torn down and the building of the second church began. As soon as the basement was completed, the congregation began meeting there. Once the total church was built, a dedication service was held. Bishop W. J. Walls preached the sermon during the 11 AM service. It was under the pastorate of Rev. George W. Thompson that the mortgage on this church was burned. This occurred sometime between 1968 and 1971.
The first carpet was installed under the leadership of Rev. John Davis. Rev. John Bennett was the pastor of Steele Creek from 1972 -1977. His anointed musical abilities (piano and voice) enhanced the worship service and promoted growth in the membership. Rev. George McNeely led the congregation from 1977 to 1978. Rev. McNeely was instrumental in establishing a central treasury for the church. In 1978, Rev. Fred McCullough was assigned to pastor the church. He remained until 1989, when illness hampered his ability to continue. Rev. Morgan Tann, Editor of The Star of Zion, graciously stepped in to serve as interim pastor during this period. During Rev. McCullough's tenure, many accomplishments were achieved. An old school house which was built between 1902 and 1905, was located at the back of the church. It was remodeled and furnished to use for meetings. Five acres of land adjacent to our property were bought and paid for. For a short period of time, this land was the church's baseball field. Later, it was slated to become the site of our new church. During Rev. McCullough's tenure, the church also paved the parking lot around the church and connected to city water. Cushions were added to the pews and new carpet was installed in the sanctuary. In addition, a new van and a baby grand piano were purchased.
Rev. Charles Wesley Reid was assigned to the church in June of 1990. Under his leadership, the church continued to grow. Due to the attendance, two Sunday morning services were needed. Services were held at 8 AM and 11AM beginning the first Sunday in June 1992. As we outgrew this church, plans were made for the construction of a third church. It was to be built on the "ball field"; the five acres adjacent to the church that had been purchased. Funds were raised, plans were made, and the construction of the new church began. The new church was completed in the fall of 1996, under the pastorate of Rev. Charles Reid. On December 1, 1996, church members marched from the old church located at 6414 South Tryon Street to the new church at 1500 Shopton Road. The new church was dedicated by the Senior Bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church, The Right Reverend Cecil Bishop, on Sunday July 27, 1997. For a small church, this was a monumental move. We gave thanks to God for leading us and sending support our way. We remembered to thank The Right Reverend Ruben Speaks for his leadership and assistance in the early stages of the planning and building of this church. We also remembered to thank our Presiding Elder at the time, Reverend Smith Turner, III and after the move to the new church we were thankful for the leadership of Reverend Jerry T. White. We dedicated the fellowship hall to honor Roman Phifer who had grown up in the church and offered his financial support to the building of this edifice although he no longer lived in Charlotte. His donations were truly a blessing. Rev. Reid remained as pastor of Steele Creek for twelve years. He was reassigned in 2002.
Rev. Franklin Russell was assigned to pastor from 2002-2003. Reverend David Baker pastored from 2003 - 2006. Rev. George Banks pastored from 2006 until December of 2009. From December 2009 until June of 2010, Our Presiding Elder, Reverend Benjamin Morrow served the church as interim pastor. In July of 2010, Reverend J. Elvin Sadler began his tenure as pastor of Steele Creek A.M. E. Zion Church.
As we move forward in 2010, under the capable leadership of Reverend Sadler, we know that God alone holds the future and the future alone will determine any further accomplishments. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!
Original historical sketch submitted by: Reverend Gail D. Love
Updated by: The Church Directory Committee July, 2010